Monday, 28 June 2010

Village Fete

I haven't posted for a few days because I've been really busy, and in between, really tired! We had our annual village fete on Saturday, and after a terrible start to the day, the whole thing was a resounding success. My hubby got a phone call at 8.30 a.m. to say that someone had set fire to the marquee, which ended up being totally destroyed, along with all the tables and chairs in it, which had been set up ready. A young man on a motorbike was seen heading away at great speed. Nobody knows who it was yet.

It was a scorching day, but fortunately there was a slight breeze. We had all the usual traditional English fete things like hoopla, coconut shy, dog show... There were also lots of stalls - bric-a-brac (I always find bargains there lol!), book stall, cake stall etc. and the tea was served in the open air since the marquee was gone.

The entertainments this year included the usual children's fancy dress competition, and we had a Scottish pipe band which was great! We also had Elphick the juggler, who we've had several times before. He was trained as an industrial chemist, but now he does juggling full time! He said to me "There's nothing I'd rather be doing." That's so nice to hear, in an age where so many people are unhappy in their jobs.

Some friends from the Brainfog M.E. forum were down in Devon for the weekend, so they joined us for the afternoon - it was such fun spending the time together!

Here are some photos of the day.

02 Cup Cake Fancy Dress 26 Jun 10

03 Fairy on a Toadstool Fancy Dress

04 Scottish Pipe Band Display 1 26 Jun 10

08 Elphick Fire Juggling on his Unicycle 2 26 Jun 10

This one is of the children enjoying Elphick:

10 Children Watching Elphick 26 Jun 10

Here are my friends from Brainfog:

14 Wend, Ant and the Dogs

and finally, one of the four of us together:

15 N, Shoshi, Wend, Ant and the Dogs 26 Jun 10

As you can see, we all had a lovely day!

Folders for ATCs–Video

When I said in my last post that I'd embed the video "tomorrow" I really meant "today" lol - I keep such weird hours that it's always "tomorrow" already by the time I get to bed!!!

Anyway, it's today now. (Or is that just toooo Alice in Wonderland??) so I'm going to embed the video! Here goes.

ATCs–Grunge Flowers

I've just discovered the wonderful world of ATCs - Artist Trading Cards. These small cards are swapped and traded like the cigarette cards of old - the convention is that they are not bought and sold. There is only one rule, really, and that is that they must be 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size.

Having to work to a very specific, and very small, size, is quite a discipline, and something new to me. I can see that this will be a lot of fun (I have been warned of the seriously addictive nature of the pursuit!), even if I don't get into the swapping - they will make lovely gifts, and also embellishments on cards and other things.

A couple of nights ago, I decided to try my hand at making one, and ended up making 3 the same (of course, being hand-made, they are not identical) - another convention is that if you make more than one, you mark on the back which number it is, e.g. 1/3, as with art prints.

This one is called "Grunge Flowers."

Grunge Flower 26 June 10 - 3 in Edition

Since making them, I decided to send one to a friend on the Brainfog M.E. forum who is very poorly at the moment, and severely in need of cheering up and encouraging. However, on its own it's rather small, and I was trying to think of a way of presenting it, when it occurred to me that the cards that Ikki makes (see her blog: Ikki's Cuttlebug Cupboard:
- she embosses part of the front of a card, and leaves the bottom part blank for a stamped or written sentiment - would be ideal to be adapted into a sort of folder for ATCs. I have made several, using different Cuttlebug embossing folders, all in plain white, and I have cut a slit just above the plain part, into which you slot the ATC.

It occurred to me that this would be a very useful thing to have, if you ever have to produce a special card in a hurry and you haven't got much time to do it (haven't we all been in that situation!) - if you build up a collection of ATCs and make quite a few folders to have in reserve, the only thing you need to do is select an appropriate ATC and then stamp or write your sentiment on the bottom of the folder, in a co-ordinating colour to go with the ATC. Because the ATC is not fixed to the card, the recipient can remove it and do what they like with it - and even swap it on if they want to.

Here's what I've done.

These are some of the folders, ready for use - unfortunately despite my best efforts, the card looks pink in these pictures, when it is in fact white.

Embossed Holders for ATCs

and here they are with the three ATCs in the slots:

Embossed Holders for ATCs in Use

I have made a video of the process of making the folders, which is being uploaded to Youtube at the moment. I'll embed it tomorrow.

I have also made a video of the making of the ATC, but because it was so experimental, and I'm still finding my way in all these processes, and getting used to the equipment and materials too, the video is very long and shows me making lots of mistakes - so it's going to take a long time to edit it down to 10 mins max! My hard drive is also nearly full, so I shall have to try and do some housekeeping on the laptop before I can tackle that project! I've got some more blank DVDs arriving in the next day or so, so I should be able to offload some of my thousands of photographs to make a bit more room. (Always something to do, isn't there!)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Card Making Equipment - Videos

Edit: 5 years on: This blog post shows my very limited beginnings. I have left it in to show how much I have developed and grown since that time. I have now moved on from a collection of boxes of basic equipment, via a room in our old house which was combined studio and office, to a fully-equipped studio dedicated to all my creative endeavours. My videoing skills have improved a great deal, too. I hope this blog post encourages others on their own journeys and helps them realise that everyone has to start somewhere!

I've now finished making the video of my equipment - it's in 3 parts so it would go on Youtube. This is probably pretty basic stuff for a lot of seasoned card-makers and papercrafters out there, but I'm just getting started with this lovely new equipment, and there are probably plenty of beginners like me who might benefit from them! I hope they will suffice as an introduction to the sort of equipment and materials that are available.

Hopefully as time goes on I shall make more videos, which will show this stuff in action.

Hope you enjoy them.

SatNav Waterfall Album Card - Video

If you look back to my post on Wed. 19th May, you'll see the photos I took of this card.

I have now made a video of it:

Hope you enjoy it!

I'm in the process of uploading a 3-part video to Youtube, all about my recent craft-making acquisitions, so watch this space...

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Piano Pop-Up Feedback

Just to let you know that we had tea with my Mum and Dad on his birthday and he was absolutely thrilled with his card! He said "Oh look at the little keys!!" and he loved the floating notes too! He was chuffed that the music said "...Happy birthday dear Dad..." as well!

When you see the recipients' faces it's worth all the trouble to make something special, and rushing against the clock too.

Afterwards I showed him the video, which he was also impressed with, and enjoyed seeing his card being made. Isn't technology wonderful?

Another lovely thing happened - for my recent birthday my mum had given me a dressing gown which was too small (and really wasn't "me" - I tend to wear kaftans these days as I spend so much time in a state of undress due to my health that at least I can look dressed even if I'm not!!), so she asked me to give it back to her, and she'll probably give it to my aunt instead. Anyway, she then gave me a cheque (for much more than she'd spent on the dressing gown!!) and said "This is probably more use to you." It certainly will be! I am using it to set myself up with lots of nice new equipment and materials, so I can really get stuck into my new creative passion. Are you all envious?

I've found some bargains on Ebay and other places, and for a couple of days now, some nice parcels have been arriving in the post! I'm having such fun opening them all, and giving nice feedback on Ebay and writing to thank everyone. The only fly in the ointment is that for the past few days I've felt pretty poorly and unable to do anything. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

As soon as I am able, I'll get going again, and set up the video camera and you can see my beginner's efforts! Once I get going on my Tim Holtz distress inks this could be a somewhat messy process but let's hope that it's only the paper that gets distressed...

Friday, 18 June 2010

Another Bad Day with my M.E.

Had another floppy day today - totally unable to do anything except flop on the settee. My dear hubby bless him, got some food for us for supper.

I felt not too bad when I woke up this a.m. but crashed after washing my hair. People don't realise how exhausting a simple thing like that can be for a person with M.E.!

I was a bit disappointed, because I'd ordered some card making stuff from Ebay and the first lot came this a.m. - lovely exciting parcel to open with lots of goodies, and I just haven't had the energy to get started on it! I so want to get on with being creative but when I'm as poorly as this I just can't do it. I'm still waiting for some other bits to come, and I can't really start until they do, do perhaps it's not so bad.

When I can't "do," I read and watch. I am learning so much from people's blogs, and from YouTube, and bookmarking the ones that will be useful, so my time isn't being wasted.

Hopefully I'll feel a bit better tomorrow. A lot better would be nice, but I'd settle for a bit!!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Flowers in our Garden

Here are some photos I took today of a rose and a clematis growing at the front of our house.

Rose 1 - 17-06-10

Rose 2 - 17-06-10

Rose 3 - 17-06-10

This rose has a very delicate scent, and I love the colour variations. So far this is the only flower on it, but hopefully it will produce some more!

Here is the dark purple clematis growing near it:

Clematis 1 17-06-10

Clematis 2 17-06-10

Hope you like them!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Views from Shoshi's Settee - M.E.

After all that busy, busy, busy, making cards recently, I'm totally exhausted today. I've been what my hubby calls "floppy" all day, and have hardly stirred from the settee. I didn't wake up until late this morning and didn't actually get up till around 11 a.m., and then slept again on the settee this afternoon for an hour or so.

This is the dreaded "payback" after a person with M.E. has overdone things. It's one of the cruellest aspects of this illness - it's very unpredictable, because the "post-exertional malaise" can be delayed up to several days after one has overdone things, or it can come almost immediately. You just never know... Also it's uncertain how long it will go on. With me it's usually over after a day or so (depending on how much and for how long I've overdone things) but with some people, even a minor amount of overdoing things can send them into a relapse that might put them in bed for a month.

I've felt very weak, had more muscle twitches than usual, and have felt utterly drained of any energy to the point when even lying down and breathing makes one feel tired. I've had a headache most of the day and my temperature regulation has been poor - rather like having flu but without the sneezing and runny nose. Although it hasn't been too bad today, I sometimes suffer from hyperacusis when I'm like this - the slightest sound is unpleasant and makes me jump out of my skin!

I'm hoping that I shall feel better tomorrow, because it's my dad's birthday and I want us to drive over and see him, and I've also got to do some food shopping. There's a whole heap of things waiting to be done as well, but I shall just have to get to those when I can.

One of the most important things I've learnt through having M.E. is that however bad I'm feeling physically, it's important to give thanks for all the good things in my life, and to keep cheerful and remember things could be a whole lot worse! I have so much to be thankful for, and it's rare for me not to be in good spirits, although I do let frustration get the better of me on occasion.

Fighting this disease is the worst thing you can do - it just makes everything much worse! The best thing to do is to go with the flow, listen to your body, rest when you need to, pace yourself when you're feeling better enough to do things, and accept your limitations. I know that I am unwell, disabled and need a lot of help, but I am still "me" even if it's "me with M.E." and the M.E. isn't what defines me as a person. It's part of my life, but not the most important part!

The most important part is the people and relationships in my life: God and my relationship with Him through Jesus, my wonderful hubby, my parents, my friends, including those I've met online, and also a sense of humour and a bubbly, up-beat personality, my creativity and appreciation of beauty in all its forms, our kitties, the beautiful place where we live, the fact that we have enough when so many people have so little, and bright hope for the future.

Youtube Uploading

I've now discovered that hidden in the depths of my free FLV video converter is a whole page of parameters that can be changed, so I've increased the quality all round, and replaced the original video on Youtube with one of better quality - however, it's still not quite as good as the original...

They don't make it easy, particularly for novices, and I'm not exactly a novice where video is concerned (although not an expert, either, lol!) I suppose everybody records video in all sorts of different formats, so it's difficult to have hard and fast guidelines, but wouldn't it be great if Youtube provided a universal converter as a free download, so that everyone could upload their videos easily, and at the best possible quality to match that of the original. There are an awful lot of really dreadful quality clips on Youtube but I suspect the fault lies in the original filming.

Anyway, the program I've got seems to work adequately and it's free, which suits me!!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Pop-Up Card with Piano Keyboard

I've been very busy again - no sooner had I finished the Explosion Box than I had to forge ahead with Dad's birthday card ready for Tuesday. It didn't take me as long as I thought, and I finished it yesterday. Today I've been working on the video, and taking a few photos, and trying to find a way of uploading videos to Youtube without them complaining about a whole lot of stuff that is totally beyond me - if they don't want people to use certain formats etc. they should explain in layman's terms exactly what is required, in my opinion - I was left totally in the dark as to what to do.

I finally discovered that it could be converted to a flash video (.flv) for which I downloaded a free converter. The only trouble is, the resulting quality isn't nearly as good... I suppose it will have to do, though.

Here are some pictures of the card.

This is just after I finished the front:

Piano Pop-Up 7

This is the pop-up keyboard inside, which also shows the music - it is the piano version of "Happy Birthday" and I inserted "Dad" into the relevant bit!

Piano Pop-Up 1

Here's a closer view of the pop-up - you can also see the music a bit more clearly on this one:

Piano Pop-Up 2

The next two pictures are of a side-view of the pop-up, showing how the cutting and folding works, and what happens when you close the card.

Piano Pop-Up 4

Piano Pop-Up 3

Here are a couple of photos which show the card almost finished - all I had to do at this stage was add the final 3-D elements.

Piano Pop-Up Without Final Decorations

Piano Pop-Up Without Final Decorations - Side View

These pictures show the inside with the floating music notes just after I'd made them:

Piano Pop-Up 5

Piano Pop-Up 6

Finally, here are the pictures of the completed card:

Piano Pop-Up Outside

Piano Pop-Up With Final Decorations

Now, here is the video. I decided this time to video the work in progress. It did make for some difficulties, because each step took me quite a while, and I was concerned about the light going before I'd finished, but it was OK in the end.

Here is the template for the keyboard pop-up. I made it to fit inside a folded A5 card, i.e. final size A6, which is a bit small, and it made it pretty fiddly to make. I'd suggest making it final size A5. I've saved this template as a .jpg, so you can paste it and enlarge it to whatever size you like. You can use your photo editor or desk-top publisher to substitute the name in the Happy Birthday music. I have made the fold lines on the black keys quite thick so they show up when printed. If they show on the finished project, simply go over them with a black felt pen.

Keyboard Pop-up Template

I am hoping to go over on Tuesday and see Dad on his birthday. I hope he enjoys his card!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Belated Birthday Outing

Following on from the Explosion Box posts, we had arranged to meet my friend today to celebrate our birthdays belatedly. She and I share the same birthday. She lives in inner-city Plymouth, a few yards from where we used to live, and although she drives, she doesn't get out into the country that often, so we took her to the tiny village of Meavy for lunch at the Royal Oak pub. On the village green outside is an ancient oak tree which is propped up to stop it falling down, and is one of the many, many oak trees in England reputed to have hidden King Charles I! (He'd have been a very fit man if he'd managed to climb such a forest of oak trees in his life...) We had a very nice lunch indeed, and then I suggested that we went for a little drive.

Meavy is just down the road from where I grew up, so it's all very familiar territory for me, and full of memories. It's right on the edge of West Dartmoor and when I was living in the area I used to walk regularly on the moors and know lots of different places. Sheepstor is the local tor which overshadows the village, and the beautiful reservoir of Burrator. It's about 7 miles' drive around the lake, and it's soooo beautiful, so that's where we went. Beforehand I showed her the 2 houses where I grew up. The only fly in the ointment was lack of sunshine - although it was dry, it was very dull and overcast, but my friend, always seeing the bright side of every situation, said it was lovely, because it made everything look mysterious! It is beautiful in any light, of course.

As we passed the turning to the tiny hamlet of Sheepstor, we came across a lovely bonus! Here's what we found:

04 Ponies

There were two foals in this group of Dartmoor ponies, and they let us get quite close.

We took the 2 bears, Winston and Edwina, and here they are looking at the ponies, with their noses literally pressed against the car windows!

06 Bears Looking Out of Car Window

Round the further side of the lake, it's very mossy and almost a secret place.

07 Country Lane at Burrator

08 Mossy Wall at Burrator

09 Mossy Wall at Burrator - Detail

10 Mossy Wall at Burrator

Everywhere the May blossom is at its best - I think I even prefer it to the earlier cherry blossom - although I vowed I'd never get like my mum, I do rave about it just as much as she does lol! The May makes the trees look weighed down with snow, and we are so fortunate that it grows profusely throughout the Devon countryside.

18 May Blossom Tree 

Coming round the further end of the lake, this is the view you get:

22 Burrator Reservoir Through the Trees 

Returning to the beginning of the circuit, you get a good view of the Victorian granite dam:

26 Burrator Dam Through the Trees

I was surprised to see how low the water level was. When it fills up, the water flows through the arches and down the slope of the dam to feed the stream below. In times of drought, the tip of the spire of the church of the drowned village has been known to appear, but that's rare.

28 Pam and Me with Explosion Box 

After our little drive, we took Pam back to Plymouth, and over a cup of coffee, she opened her explosion box. I then spent some time with her on her computer, setting up web mail for her as she's really having problems with Virgin Media, and my hubby crashed out on the settee and went to sleep - he is still very sleepy in the daytime despite the benefit of the mask at night, and I think he's being optimistic if he thinks the dr. will allow him to drive again when he sees her on 1st July...

After that I was pretty knackered - it was about 7.30 p.m. by then and we had to do a quick Tesco shop on the way home. Very glad to get my feet up after that! It's a long day, however enjoyable, and it doesn't help that I've got to do the driving atm.

Altogether a lovely day, and my friend enjoyed every minute of it! - as did we. We have so much to be thankful for, with all this on our doorstep, to be shared in the company of those we love.

Video Camera

Everyone on the Brainfog forum has been thrilled by the Explosion Box and my video. One member remarked on how lovely it was to hear birdsong in the background of the video. I had the patio doors open and the birds always sing in our garden. We've got a blackbird who sings his little heart out nearly every day!

I had mixed feelings parting with the Explosion Box, even to my special friend. When you part with something you've made - especially something you've put a lot of effort into - it's as if a part of you has gone into it, and it goes away with the gift. It's like a mini-bereavement when it goes. Doing the video and photos was initially as a record so I didn't forget, but they have had another effect - it will be with me always now!

I was surprised how easy it was to do the video. My first attempt didn't work because I hadn't pressed the right button and I didn't realise the camera wasn't actually recording!!! Doh... I had thought of doing the first bit so you could see my face, but yesterday I was in full Medusa mode with my Benders in my hair and I didn't want to turn the whole Youtube community to stone at a single stroke! My friend said I should have gone for it and let them all see me in my Full Glory!!!

I've watched a lot of videos of card making etc. on Youtube, and I didn't think it could be that hard, setting up the camera on a tripod over the table, but when I'd done it, I discovered the whole thing had come out upside down! However, a quick google search on video editing forums showed me a quick way to turn it the right way up using Windows Movie Maker. After that I edited it in Pinnacle Studio which I'm more familiar with. I had great fun designing the title pages in my photo editor, using a graphic from my blog and my signature platypus to provide continuity across my "online presence." I shall save the title pages for use on other projects, probably keeping the same music (the first movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, if anyone's interested).

My friend absolutely loved her explosion box, and said several times, "I can't believe you did all this, just for me!" One of the things I love about her most is her humility. She just can't see what an incredibly special person she is, and how much her friendship means to me. She reminded me today that we've been friends for 22 years!! I couldn't believe it.

We've had a lovely, lovely day together today. I've done a separate post about that.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Explosion Box Pt 8

I've finished the Explosion Box! - and in the nick of time, too. We're taking our friend out for lunch tomorrow to celebrate our mutual belated birthday together, and I'm giving it to her then.

Because I'd only taken photos of the "work in progress" and not in an ideal setting, I've re-taken photos of the finished box in daylight and with a better background, which really show it off better.

01 Side View

02 Side View 2

03 Top View

05 Open 1

06 Open 2

08 Card 1 Zion's Children

09 Card 2 Seven-Flower Pop-Up

10 Card 3 Eighty

11 Card 4 A Friend Loves at All Times

12 Card 5 Happy is He - Red Hearts

13 Card 6 Embroidered Shalom

14 Card 7 Exploding Bouquet

15 Card 8 Lilies

I have also made a video:


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